On Saturday I spent the day in London. Due to a combination of weddings, hen do’s and visits to my parents I have not spent a weekend in the city I live in for nearly 2 months. It was one of those perfect, spontaneous exploratory days, and to top it all off the sun was shining too. On days like these I am totally in love with London.
First stop was Granary Square in King’s Cross, the recently refurbished area surrounding the new Central Saint Martins building. This was my first visit to the square and came highly recommended, as did the Grain Store which is where we ended up. I had been warned that bookings for lunch are usually snapped up in advance, but as we were looking for just drinks and snacks they happily accommodated us in the bar area. Perfect!
The Grain Store is the new opening by The Zetter Group (famous for The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell – winner of Hotel of the Year in 2012) and is headed up by Bruno Loubet, a French born Michelin star chef who has trained under Pierre Koffmann and Raymond Blanc. The result is a slick yet warm combination of great interior design, fabulous service and interesting yet reasonably priced food combinations. The all day bar menu includes a quirky mix of treats such as hot dogs (both meat and vege, with not a Linda McCartney in sight) and courgette, broad bean and prawn falafel. The presentation is very considered and our elegant beer glasses definitely pleased my prop stylist friend Davina.
The square outside was teaming with children running through the mini fountains in their swimwear, but we bypassed this and decided to sit by the canal and soak up some sun. A great place to laze and people watch on a sunny day.
Next stop… ice-cream, where Google provided my second fabulous foodie surprise of the day. A short walk up the canal to Camden Locks resulted in a quite marvellous Heston Blumenthal style experience at Chin Chin Labs www.chinchinlabs.com. What we thought was going to merely be a pleasant ice-cream turned out to be a ton of amazing dairy fun! Chin Chin Labs is a liquid nitrogen ice-cream parlour (the first in Europe apparently) and a great place to visit. You choose your ice-cream and your topping, then watch as they create it in front of you. Like something from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the small space is filled with liquid nitrogen ‘steam’ and toppings are sold in chemistry lab utensils such as test tubes and conical flasks.
I opted for vanilla with salted caramel sauce and my friend Davina had chocolate ice-cream (which was bitter rather than sweet) with a caramelised pretzel on top. It was delicious. At £4 a pop this isn’t an everyday snack, but is a fabulous treat and an experience that I guarantee you will talk about after. I certainly did…
I finished off the day with a trip to a beer garden in Dalston and a bit of dancing later on. My perfect London day. I love this city.
Grain store, Granary Square, 1-3 Stable Street, London, N1C 4AB. T: 020 7324 4466. www.grainstore.com
Chin Chin Labs, 49 – 50 Camden Lock Place, London, NW1 8AF. Open Mon 12:30-6:30pm & Tue-Sat 12-7pm. www.chinchinlabs.com